Barcelona transfer news: Morata's Barca snub to join Chelsea, Valverde squashes Iniesta exit rumours and more - 19th February 2018
Alvaro Morata rejected the opportunity to join Barcelona
The Spaniard joined Antonio Conte's Blues from Real Madrid in the summer for a total transfer fee of £70 million and started the season in a bright fashion before injuries hampered his progress. Now, Spanish news outlet, Don Balon, claims that the 25-year had a concrete offer from Barcelona in the summer.
Morata was offered a better package by the Blaugrana, who contacted the player's camp in order to initiate a move. The striker would have earned €15 million per season at Camp Nou while the current La Liga leaders were willing to shell out €100 million (£84 million) as the transfer fee, more than what Chelsea offered.
However, Morata did not want to play as a backup again, this time for Luis Suarez, and opted to move to Chelsea, where he is the first-choice striker now. Further, the presence of Conte, who was the first manager to show faith in his abilities by bringing him to Juventus, was another key factor. Finally, a move to Barcelona would have scuppered the striker's chances of returning to the Bernabeu, a dream which he continues to harbour.
While Madrid were, either way, unwilling to sanction the deal, as per the report, it could have turned out to be a good buy for Ernesto Valverde, as he does not have a quality backup for Suarez in his squad. Meanwhile, Chelsea benefitted from signing Morata and he is set to face Barcelona next in the Champions League round of 16.
Valverde states Iniesta's importance amongst exit rumours
The Barcelona captain has been linked with a lucrative move to Chinese Super Ligue side, Tianjin Quanjian, who are ready to offer him €35 million per season. While this could prove to be a good final paycheck for the 33-year old, taking a decision will not be easy as he spent his entire playing career at Camp Nou.
When questions regarding Iniesta's future were put forth in the press conference ahead of Barcelona's clash with Eibar, Valverde moved ahead to squash them and said:
"If that happens, if he had an offer, we would talk about it. But I have nothing to say about it at the moment because I have not even thought about it. I can't comment on every news story that comes out. Andres is our player, he is with us and we want him to keep helping us like he usually does."
When the Barcelona boss was further asked on whether he sees Iniesta in his squad next season, he said:
"I don't want to think about these things before they happen and I won't go crazy thinking about [Iniesta]. I leave these things to one side, thinking about them doesn't help. We don't have time when we're in the month of February and we still have three competitions in play."
Thus, Valverde definitely sees Iniesta in his plans for this season and as seen with Xavi and Javier Mascherano, the club will not stand in the way of the midfielder's decision, should he choose to leave.
Pedro wants to end his career at Barcelona
The 30-year old was one of the key players in Pep Guardiola's brilliant Barcelona side and he joined Chelsea in 2015. The forward has been in good form this season, scoring six goals and assisting four more across all competitions.
Now, Don Balon, states that Pedro wants to return to Barcelona when his Chelsea contract runs out in 2019. The Spaniard feels he had his best years at Camp Nou and he can contribute even better this time around with his experience and maturity.
Thus, should an opportunity arise, Pedro will return to Barcelona without hesitation. Meanwhile, for Valverde, he needs to consider whether to sign a 32-year old wide forward in 2019. However, it could turn out to be a good move to bolster the squad with a former player who has invaluable experience in winning big trophies.